A mug on a kitchen table featuring the words Rock Solid in angular red and green letters

How PG Tips hopes to redefine itself

The brand’s first campaign since 2016 is aiming to refresh its image. We speak to PG Tips and creative agency Calling about the power of a light touch, and what director Steve McQueen brought to the campaign film

PG Tips’ Monkey was one of the best-known mascots this side of the millennium and, with comedian Johnny Vegas by his side, the two made a double act that reached far beyond the scope of an ad break. Given the current resurgence of humour and ‘weirdvertising’, it might have seemed a logical path for PG Tips to retread when it returned to our screens with its first ad campaign since 2016.

But while the likes of Yorkshire Tea have gone down the comedic route, PG Tips has headed in another direction and “is going to come out in a way that nobody is going to expect,” says Josh Tenser, ECD at the brand’s new agency of record, Calling, which he co-founded with Rani Patel a little over a year ago. The campaign film stars actor Ashley Walters in conversation with himself, cup of tea in hand, as he rallies himself and the viewers at home to take the next step forward in their lives.

“I could have picked up the phone to any advertising agency and they would have jumped at the chance,” says Karen Owen, global senior marketing executive at Lipton Teas and Infusions. “I wanted to work with a team that was going to provoke me and my team, make us feel a little uncomfortable, and push us forward. And I’d fallen in love with the work that Josh had done previously with Uncommon, particularly on B&Q. Bringing brands that perhaps had gone through a bit of an uncool phase and making them cool again – I wanted to work with a team that knew how to do that, and nurture and protect a brand, and really push it forward.”